Demand American Airlines Apologize for Discriminatory Treatment Toward Boy with Down Syndrome

Target: American Airlines

Goal: Apologize to the Vanderhost family for removing their son, who has Down Syndrome, from a flight because he posed a “security risk”

Recently, a family was not allowed to board a flight because the pilot claimed their son posed a security risk. Bede Vanderhost, a 16-year-old boy with Down Syndrome, was not behaving in any way that would warrant his removal from the flight. Bede and his family were discriminated against and treated with disrespect. American Airlines needs to make this horrible situation right by apologizing to the family.

The Vanderhosts were told that Bede would not be allowed to fly because the pilot had allegedly observed him running around the gate area. However, Bede was not running, shouting, or bothering any other passengers. In a cell phone video shot by his mother, the boy is sitting calmly and playing with a baseball cap. Mrs. Vanderhost was reprimanded for shooting this video, and an official from American Airlines called the local police to have the family removed from the gate. When the family was finally allowed to board a later flight, the discriminatory treatment did not end. According to Robert Vanderhost, the boy’s father, ‘For a second time, we were discriminated against, segregated. We sat in the last row and no passengers were allowed to sit within two rows of us.’

Bede Vanderhost and his family faced clear discriminatory treatment due to Bede’s disability. The boy’s documented behavior did not warrant being denied access to the plane, or the first class seats the family had paid for. American Airlines has not apologized to the family, and has instead stood behind the employees who were involved in the incident. Demand that American Airlines apologize to the Vanderhosts for the discriminatory treatment today.


Dear American Airlines:

Recently, the Vanderhost family was removed from a flight because of their disabled son. The boy was said to be a security risk, but video from the family proves that he was not exhibiting any behavior to warrant this. The family received discriminatory treatment from you, including a downgrade in their tickets, seats segregated from other passengers, and rude treatment from American Airlines employees.

I ask you to apologize to the Vanderhosts. The family and their disabled son did nothing to warrant the treatment they received. Your company should not be discriminating against any passengers for any reason. By standing by the offensive employees, you are showing that your company supports this discrimination. Apologize to the family immediately to show the company does not support this.


[Your Name Here]

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